Eight months on, grief burns itself out,
leaves quiet, smearing ash. A face,
a spit-damp rag. A blackened field
in rain. My smile's willed
and brief. All right then, I insist—
a productive day. And schedule
carefully: work, tea with a friend,
a run. I will pretend
a busy breathlessness, which is,
I'm sure, its own reward. And do
all—headlong, a little grim—
but later at home
recall only chatter as limp
as boiled food. Its own reward?
Well, the other option's sitting tight,
trusting summer heat
will coax some movement out of me,
asleep, cold-blooded on a rock.
Is grief's aftermath also grief—
a latter, deadened trough,
a kind of char that's part of burning?
If so, fire ephemerals—blooms
that follow forest fires—ought
to flare shortly. If not,
this ash-dark face is mine, not grief's—
is, in fact, me. And you? All but
gone. Transcribed in scorch. A wound
the new bark curls around.
Benjamin S. Grossberg